4K Monitor Buying Guide
What do you need to look for when shopping for a 4K monitor? What sort of features do you need? What do things like panel type, refresh rate and response time mean?
Read this 4K monitor buying guide and you’ll find the answers to all of these questions and more.
What is a 4K monitor?
This may seem like a question with an obvious answer, but there are so many different types of monitors to choose from these days, that we’d like to provide a definition.
A 4K monitor is simply a monitor with a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels.
This is almost four times the resolution than a standard 1080p monitor, meaning you’ll see a big difference in display performance if you’re upgrading from an older monitor.
Because of this improvement in performance, you will sometimes see 4K monitors referred to as ultra-high definition or UHD monitors.
Next we’ll take a look at some of the key things you should think about when selecting a 4K monitor for your own situation.
How big do you want to go? If you’ve got plenty of room in your home, then you may be tempted to buy the biggest 4K monitor you can afford.
But bear in mind what you’ll be using your monitor for. If you’ll mostly be watching media like films, then bigger is generally better as you’ll benefit from better viewing angles and things like more connection ports and other features.
However, if you want to do some dual-screen gaming (and more and more gamers are doing this), then you’ll want to stick to a more modest screen size like 22-inches so that you’ll have enough space to place your monitors side by side.
Note - screen size is measured from corner to corner diagonally.
Although we are starting to see newer monitors with LED panels come onto the market, the majority of 4K monitors have LCD panels (panel refers to the actual screen itself within the monitor).
The key thing to note here is that there are different types of LCD panel, each with their own pros and cons.
TN (Twisted Nematic Film)
TN panels are typically found in lower priced monitors and are good at handling motion, offering fast response times - making them great for gaming.
However, TN panels don’t tend to offer colour reproduction, contrast ratios and viewing angles that are as good as the other main panel types.
IPS (In-Plane Switching)
IPS panels deliver better colour reproduction, colour accuracy and viewing angles compared to TN panels.
In this, they are arguably the best all-round panel type, offering a good blend of reproduction performance and usability i.e. they are suitable for both gaming and watching media.
However, IPS panels do tend to sit at a slightly higher price point.
VA (Vertical Alignment)
VA panels are renowned for providing excellent colour reproduction and viewing angles. However, they’re not as sharp as equivalent IPS panels and can suffer from colour shifting in certain contexts.
If you’re going to be using your 4K monitor for gaming, then response time is a really important thing to look at.
Response time measures the amount of time it takes for a pixel to change from one colour to another. In the context of gaming, this is really important as it impacts whether what you see on screen blurs or not.
Response time is measured in milliseconds (ms). For the ultimate gaming experience, you want a monitor that has a response time of 1ms or less.
Another crucial point for gamers is refresh rate.
Without going into too much detail, refresh rate refers to how frequently a monitor redraws the image on the screen per second. This calculation is measured in hertz (Hz).
For a great gaming and viewing experience you want to select a 4K monitor that has a higher refresh rate. This will provide you with a smoother experience and can even give you a competitive advantage in certain contexts.
Explore our range of 4K monitors here at CCL and you’ll find more budget oriented 4K 120Hz monitors, mid-range 4K 144Hz monitors through to high-end 4K 150Hz monitors.
When we talk about input types in the context of monitors, we are referring to ‘connections’ i.e. how you connect your PC or console to the monitor.
Today’s 4K monitors are available with an array of input types, with the most popular being HDMI and DisplayPort.
HDMI is generally the preferred option for most people as it is widely used; whether you have a PC, a console or a DVD player, they almost certainly have a HDMI port.
If you want to really enjoy high-end AAA gaming, then DisplayPort is the better option. It’s a relatively new input type that uses packetized data transmission which creates a super efficient data stream. In layman's terms, it means your games will look awesome!
Other, but less common, input types on 4K monitors include:
- DVI connections
- Thunderbolt connections
- USB-C connections
- VGA connections
Popular 4K monitor features
Once you’ve ticked off all of the above, then you need to think about what additional features you’d like your 4K monitor to have.
We’ve set out some of the most popular 4K monitor features below.
FreeSync and G-Sync
These are arguably essential features for gamers. In order to help monitors ‘collaborate’ better with top graphics cards, AMD and NVIDIA have worked with monitor manufacturers to create technologies that help monitors adapt their refresh rate (Hz) to a graphics card’s frame rate (FPS).
NVIDIA’s version of this technology is called G-Sync, whilst AMD’s version of this technology is called FreeSync.
These technologies help to produce a much smoother and enjoyable gaming experience, reducing tearing and ghosting.
G-Sync is a proprietary technology that only works with NVIDIA graphics cards, whilst FreeSync works with both AMD and NVIDIA graphics cards, making it a much more popular choice.
If you’re going to be using your 4K monitor for work purposes, it might be handy to buy one that incorporates a webcam; it’ll make video calls a breeze!
In order to get the best video calling experience, make sure that the monitor you choose has at least a 2 megapixel webcam and a HD resolution. Ideally, you’ll want your monitor to include speakers too.
Speaking of which, a set of in-built speakers can help create a more immersive gaming and/or watching experience.
Buying a 4K monitor with in-built speakers will save you the hassle of having to buy and set up external speakers. In-built speakers also help to create a more streamlined setup, particularly if you’re using a VESA mount.
Should you want to enjoy a truly immersive, cinema-style experience a curved display can help.
Curved displays fill more of your field of vision, meaning you’re less likely to be distracted by things in your peripheral vision. They can also help reduce reflections and screen glare, reducing eye strain and helping to draw you into whatever it is you’re watching.
Best place to buy 4K monitors UK
So with all that in mind, is a 4K monitor right for you?
If the answer is ‘yes’, then buy one from CCL today. Not only do we have an extensive range at incredible prices, but we also offer free delivery (in many cases next day), and a range of payment options including PayPal Credit and Klarna to help you spread the cost.
Plus, if you have any questions about a 4K monitor prior to purchase, our expert, friendly team will be happy to help. You can speak to them on 01274 471200 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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